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[ Study Of Prion Diseases And Alzheimer's To Benefit From 600,000 Research Grants ]

Study Of Prion Diseases And Alzheimer's To Benefit From 600,000 Research Grants

The University of Western Ontario is one of nine universities which will share 2.9 million dollars in research grants announced by PrioNet Canada to study Prion diseases and neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's. Prion diseases are fatal, infectious and transmissible neurodegenerative diseases affecting both humans and animals including mad cow disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans, and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk. The goal of the funding which supports 11 projects is two-fold, explains Dr. Neil Cashman, Scientific Director of PrioNet Canada, one of Canada's Network of Centres of Excellence. "By working with our partners, we aim to continue to protect Canada against classical Prion diseases like chronic wasting disease and mad cow disease, and we're also providing benefit to Canadians through the development of innovative therapeutics to treat common neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and ALS.

Tracking Down BSE And Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle are transmissible neurodegenerative diseases linked to the aggregation of the prion protein in the central nervous system. It is known that the aggregation of prion proteins promotes neuronal decay with fatal consequences for the infected individual. However, there is only a limited understanding of how neurons are lost and which molecules are involved. Researchers at the Leibniz Institutes for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Berlin) and for Primate Research (GĂ ttingen) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz Center Munich have now found that the expression of so-called endogenous retroviruses is altered upon BSE-infection. Their study, for which they used BSE infected non-human primates, could guide new treatment strategies for human Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (Molecular Neurodegeneration, 2011, 6:44).

Rinderpest Is Dead; Second Disease In History Declared Eradicated

The Romans couldn't beat it when they ruled the world, but today in Rome the UN has declared the eradication of rinderpest, the second disease in all of human history to be successfully wiped out after smallpox. Scientists are celebrating victory over a deadly animal disease that cattle herders around the world have dreaded for millennia. We are still very reliant on livestock to feed our bellies and economy, but way back when if your animals fell to rinderpest your family had a good chance of starving and succumbing to a similar fate. UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Animal Health Service Chief, Juan Lubroth explains: "If you could imagine that you are an owner of 100 animals, a milking herd, by the end of the week, you would have zero, it would go so fast through the population.

Drugs Being Developed To Tackle CJD Could Also Help Prevent Alzheimer's

Scientists funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) have identified two antibodies which could help block the onset of Alzheimer's disease in the brain. The antibodies, ICSM-18 and ICSM-35, were already known to play a crucial role in preventing 'protein misfolding', the main cause of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease ( CJD ), the human form of mad cow disease. This discovery represents a significant step forward in the battle to develop drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease - a devastating neurodegenerative illness which affects more than 20 million people worldwide. The study, published today in Nature Communications, has shown, using mice, that these antibodies can block damaging effects on brain tissue caused by a toxic substance called 'amyloid beta'.

EFSA Advises On Welfare Of Dairy Cows

EFSA's Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) has published five scientific opinions and a scientific report on the overall effects of the most relevant farming systems on the welfare of dairy cows and related diseases. The Panel concluded that long term genetic selection for higher milk yield and the nature of the farming systems used - i.e. housing and equipment, as well as management and handling practices - are major factors affecting the health and welfare of dairy cows. Lameness and mastitis are the most significant indicators of poor dairy cow welfare, as well as reproductive, metabolic and behavioural disorders. The Panel proposed a series of recommendations which could be taken into account by risk managers in view of further improving welfare in the areas of housing, feeding and the genetic selection of dairy cows.

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